Chances are you'll not know the identify Gin D. Wong, however you positively know his work. He’s chargeable for a number of the most iconic buildings in Los Angeles, together with the Theme Constructing at the Los Angeles Airport (pictured above), and he even impressed the designers of the legendary 1962 animated TV present The Jetsons. Wong died on September 1st at the age of 94.
Wong designed not solely the 1960 Theme Constructing (maybe higher generally known as one thing like “The Spaceship” to vacationers at LAX), however he was additionally instrumental in erecting different icons of midcentury trendy design.
As an example, Wong designed the Union 76 gasoline station in Beverly Hills, with its monumental exaggerated roof, which was accomplished in 1965. And he labored on the CBS Tv Metropolis Constructing, one other modernist masterpiece, which was accomplished in 1952.
Wong additionally labored on the now defunct Marineland of the Pacific in Palos Verdes which was a theme park that opened a yr earlier than Disneyland in 1954, and the Transamerica constructing in San Francisco, some of the recognizable items of that metropolis’s skyline.
“It’s not muddied up,” Wong mentioned of the Transamerica constructing, making his design philosophy clear. “It’s simply easy, clear design.”
Wong talked about a few of his most necessary works throughout a 2013 interview that may be seen on YouTube.
And whereas he had no direct hand within the creation of the CBS TV present The Jetsons, anybody aware of the buildings he helped design will instantly see his affect. The mixture of midcentury trendy and Southern California’s Googie type are the foundations of The Jetsons universe. And the futuristic world of George Jetson and his iconic type wouldn’t have been the identical with out Wong.
We explored this design type in depth again in 2012, in the course of the 50th anniversary of The Jetsons, in addition to in our examine of Googie’s 21st century type more broadly. And regardless of being retro-futuristic, there’s nonetheless one thing different worldly and optimistic about all of it.
However though Wong influenced the design of Southern California so tremendously, the Los Angeles Times explains that he by no means fairly turned a family identify within the structure scene.
After commencement, he went to work for Pereira & Luckman and later caught along with his mentor to assist run Pereira & Associates, the place he turned director of design after which the agency’s president. He was a star of these corporations. He led the big design group that modernized LAX within the 1950s, readying the airport for the age of jet journey. However it was Pereira, the identify accomplice, who landed on the quilt of Time, his assured expression and spectacular head of hair underneath a banner studying “Vistas for the Future.”
When that difficulty hit newsstands in September 1963, only a few Angelenos would have acknowledged Wong’s identify. He was a Chinese language American architect in a agency led by a grasp of architectural advertising and enterprise improvement. For all of the daring of Wong’s work, he was destined to stay one of many associates.
Born on September 17, 1922, in Guangzhou, China, Wong moved to Los Angeles when he was 9 years previous. And whereas there have all the time been fights in regards to the which means of “authorship” on the earth of structure, Wong’s story is considered one of significance for students contemplating the position of race in who will get credit score for a specific work.
Even individuals who take into account themselves deeply invested in structure could have by no means heard Wong’s identify, because the Los Angeles Occasionspoints out. And that’s a disgrace. Not just for the structure group, however for these of us who admire his affect on different elements of tradition.
Sure, The Jetsons is probably not probably the most excessive-forehead legacy of Wong’s to think about. However for these of us who credit score the present with giving us technologically optimistic visions of the longer term, it wouldn’t have been the identical with out him. The animators who gave us that creation lived and breathed Wong’s world as they drove round Burbank and Los Angeles within the 1950s and 60s. The design of that Jetsonian world was as a lot his because it was Hanna-Barbera’s.
RIP Mr. Wong. We thanks for a steadfast and optimistic glimpse of tomorrow that amazingly nonetheless endures as we speak.